Sales are the backbone of any business, yet it is something that most people struggle with. One thing that can help all of us is understanding the psychology behind what makes influences a persons decision to buy.

Mike Michalowicz the best selling author of Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, and Surge is back on the show. This week we are talking about behavior influences regarding sales. It’s all about what affects sales and what helps you sell your property management services. Mike shares his research and insights on this important topic.

Be sure to listen to our popular, previous episode with Mike: DGS 25: Why Every Property Manager Should Implement Profit First

You’ll Learn…

[03:00] How entrepreneurs struggle with momentum mode and overwhelm mode.
[06:11] How we are wired to pay attention to things that are different.
[11:18] How we feel compelled to share our knowledge and power of secrets.
[14:45] Identifying what the customer truly needs and delivering it.
[21:11] The Phoenix Effect and how there is automatic envy of someone in a superior position.
[27:30] Having a compelling story with a high point and a low point and inviting the audience to climb with you.
[31:36] How to have a perfect vision.
[34:35] Focusing on the end benefit and sharing a story of the benefit.
[42:20] Always look and see what the mass is doing and then do the opposite thing.
[43:09] Being different and showing that you are unique and simple.
[43:54] The more options the more paralyzed we become.
[46:08] Catering to specific niches and benefits of frequency, intimacy, and trust.
[55:36] How little guys can move faster than the big guy and always be different in business.
[01:01:07] The way that Mike’s website is radically different.
[01:02:12] To make your business stand out, take a step.



Mike Michalowicz’s Books on Amazon

Previous Podcast with Mike: Why Every Property Manager Should Implement Profit First

Contagious: Why Things Catch On (Book on Amazon)


Jason: Welcome DoorGrow Hackers to The DoorGrowShow. If you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors and expand your rent roll, and you are interested in growing your business and life, and you are open to doing things a bit differently, then you are a DoorGrow Hacker.

At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to grow property management businesses and their owners. We want to transform the industry, eliminate the BS, build awareness, expand the market, and help the best property managers win. If you enjoy this episode, do me a favor. Open up iTunes, find the DoorGrowShow, subscribe, and then give us a real review. Thank you for helping us with that vision.

I’m your host, Property Management Growth Hacker, Jason Hull, the founder of OpenPotion, GatherKudos, ThunderLocal, and of course, DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show.

In todays episode number 30, we have Mike Michalowicz again as a guest. This is the best-selling author of Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, Surge. He’s probably has some other books I’m not thinking about the top of my head. In today’s episode we’re talking about behavioral influences regarding sales. What affect sales and what helps you sell your property management services.

I think you’ll really enjoy this. There’s some great nuggets of wisdom, some takeaways I think that you’ll have. Let’s get into it.

I’m hanging out here with Mike Michalowicz. Super excited to have you back on the show.

Mike: Thank you.

Jason: I had a lot of great feedback on the previous episode where boom now Profit First. I’ve gotten emails from people telling me that they’ve started implementing it. It’s been changing their business. Again, if you haven’t heard that, go back and listen to this. It’s released on the podcast on DoorGrow Show. It talks all about how everybody should be putting profit first in their business and implement this model. Mike, how are you today?

Mike: I’m doing well. I’m doing well. How are you, Jason? How are you doing?

Jason: I’m doing really good. I’m doing really good. I’m really, really excited doing lots of cool stuff in my own business. As an entrepreneur, we’re either in momentum or we feel overwhelmed. It’s pretty much like the two speed—

Mike: It does seem like the two options. I’m in the overwhelmed phase. I actually have a cold coming on which I hate. It drives me nuts. I’m traveling so much for speaking right now. I’m coming back and the work is piling up. I’m like, “Oh, I thought I had delegated so well. I thought everything’s off my plate. Ugh! Not so well.”

Jason: You have a team behind you.

Mike: I do. There’s nine people and still can’t get all done. What is going on?

Jason: That’s the thing. People look at entrepreneurs that are in momentum and doing a lot of stuff. Behind every good entrepreneur is a team.

Mike: Oh my gosh, yeah.

Jason: We’re going to talk about sales today, right? Behavioral influences in sales?

Mike: Yeah. This is a topic that is of particular interest to me. I’ve been studying it for about 10 years. I will be writing a book about it, its implications, how to use it, why it’s important. But that book is still years out, so this is the ultimate teaser at least of what I learned so far.

Jason: Great. Let’s get into it. Where do we start with sales?

Mike: The core premise is sales and marketing, and I kind of blend them together. How I define it is having a prospect identify you at the preferred choice and then having them commit to it. Identifying you, that’s kind of marketing. Having them commit to you, that’s kind of sales. I combine the two.

The core premise is this: we have been taught that better is better. I look at my competitors’ website, how can I do a better website than my competitors. It’s not too uncommon for me to do an amalgamation of all different people’s websites, my competitors’ websites and then say, “Hah, here’s mine. It’s the best of all their stuff.” That’s great only to a certain degree. You have to offer a degree of value, quality that is significant to the customer.

Here’s the challenge of being better. Better is not visible to the customer. It doesn’t catch their attention. The analogy I like to use is, say you and I were sitting out watching cars drive by in some interstate highway or something. The cars will just kind of blur altogether. When a pink car comes or something, you’ll notice it because it’s different. But a car is a car and it kind of starts blurring. But I can guarantee, guarantee the second someone comes riding a giraffe down the highway, we’ll be taking pictures, we’re like, “This is crazy.” Put on Facebook, Twitter will blow up. Your giraffe on highway, and we’ll go crazy over it. What that points to is when something is different, it triggers our minds as a consumer to pay absolute attention to it.

I want to give you the behavioral aspect around why this is important and we’ll translate it to marketing and sales. Back from the caveman days, men and women were wired the same way. When something different presented itself, it required our absolute, undivided attention. Devoted attention. What would happen is, say the men, they were hunters. We were walking through the woods, we hear crunching leaves and their feet and breaking twigs. Our minds were actually designed to filter out the familiar. When we heard a familiar sound, it say, “Okay, it’s safe, it’s safe, ignore, ignore, ignore.”

But the second we heard a hoof prints or hoofs in a distance or screeches, we froze because our minds have heard something else different than the common familiar noise and we paid absolute attention to it. It meant one of two things. One is it’s an opportunity for us. It was our dinner. Two, it could be a threat. We were dinner. We’re death, isn’t that? Tunnel vision focus to simply evaluate opportunity, threat, or inconsequentials. There is one of three things. If it’s inconsequential, we filter it out and start continue again. If it’s an opportunity, we pursuit it. If it’s a threat, we avoid it. That was for the hunters.

The gatherers, women, same thing. They were out looking for vegetation in their immediate area. If they saw a new berry they’ve never seen before, it’s again different. If it was familiar, if it was something seen before, they either knew it was poisonous, they avoid it, or it’s an opportunity, they gather it. But if they didn’t know what it was, absolute attention to it, detailed attention. They would test it out. If it was safe to consume, it could feed the tribe. They would take a berry and they would actually rub it on the back of their hands to see if there is a reaction. The first test for poison is to rub it. If there is a reaction, they avoid it. Then they would dab it on their tongue. If the tongue went numb, avoid it. Slowly, they would build up their consumption, paying very specific attention to it until they identify what it was. If it was safe, they collect it.

Advance it today, we still have the caveman mind. Yes, our mind is developing but there’s still a lot of that componentry. That’s why the giraffe coming down the highway gets our absolute attention. Our mind looks at it as an opportunity, a threat, or more of the same. Pretty quickly we will identify, saying it’s opportunity. An opportunity for pictures. It’s not our dinner but it’s an opportunity to spread the word on this so we will pay attention to it as an opportunity.

Here’s the last part I wanted I wanted to share. The irony is if we were in the zoo and you see the first giraffe, it’s interesting because it’s the first time you seen one in a long time. But now you see like 10, 15 giraffes. You start kind of walking by the exhibit and say, “I’ve had enough of this,” and then maybe you walk by again and say, “Oh, my God! If I have to see one more giraffe… show me something new.”

Then there’s these zebras, only it’s different animals. That stuff becomes commonplace very quickly because it is common. But a second a car comes racing through the middle of a zoo—maybe shooting through one of the exhibits—all the attention goes there. “What’s going on?” “Is there someone crazy?” Then the cameras start clicking at the car.

Here’s the lesson. It’s kind of blue ocean strategy. Whatever your competition’s doing, that is the common blur for your customers. If we have the courage to be different, we’re guaranteed attention. We’re not guaranteed business, we’re guaranteed attention. Our prospects will identify us because we’re unique as either an opportunity, a threat, or more of the familiar. I can’t guarantee business at this phase, but I can guarantee attention. That’s the biggest component to understand about this behavioral aspect. Different is better.

Jason: Right. I think there’s something that’s developed in recent years called ad blindness. Everything’s always trying to get our attention. Everything’s always trying to get our attention. Everything’s moving around. People become numb to it. For example, web design space. A lot of people put big slideshow above the fold. They’re hoping they’ll read every slide. Like that’s going to happen. The reality is if it’s moving and changing, people just ignore it a lot of time. Ad blindness develops. You also mentioned the importance of when you see something unique, people will want to share this. There’s this sharing aspect. Sharing—I can’t remember the book I’ve read this. Oh, it’s called Contagious—

Mike: Oh yeah. I remember that.

Jason: Orange book. He talks about how sharing is social currency. Somebody gets this social currency, they’re like, “Ooh, I have something. Now I have greater value. I can go share it with lots of people and have greater value.” Like you just shared the book, Contagious.

Mike: Yes and I felt compelled to show it. It’s all behavioral stuff. You say contagious, I’m going to look like part of that is I want to prove that I’m worthy. Once we have something that’s a unique piece of knowledge, it is—I believe it goes back to the caveman days too—it’s a form of demonstrating power actually. It used to be a fistfight in the field out there to see who the strongest was. Now the strength is typically shown through knowledge. When we possess something that’s knowledgeable, that demonstrates our knowledge, we feel compelled actually to share it.

I’ve been studying the power of secrecy. It’s funny people asking what is the most viral technique. It used to be, “Do a viral video.” “Do a viral email chain.” The most viral technique inevitably is a secret, meaning, if I have a secret and I share it with you, it’s more likely you will share that. I’m like, “Jason, please don’t tell anyone. This is between me and you. It’s totally a secret.” It’s more like you’ll share it than if I say, “Hey, here’s something’s kind of boring.”

The power of secrecy or how it works is if I possess a secret that you tell me, and no one else knows about it, I have knowledge that no one else has, meaning, I’m more powerful then than them that respect. But the only way I can demonstrate my power and significance is by telling them the secret. There’s no other way of showing it. If I said, “I have a secret you don’t have,” it kind of wears out quickly. If I said, “Hey, here’s the deal. Jason told me about the situation. Don’t tell anyone. This is between me and him and I wanted to tell you.”

Now what happens is I feel empowered because I’m telling someone else the secret. I didn’t say my power. I truly hope they don’t spread the word because that’s my power. But now, they have it too. Now they feel compelled to share, to demonstrate their power. I feel compelled to keep sharing it quicker than they do because if they tell someone else before I do, I lose the power.

Actually, a good secret will catch momentum. It’s funny.

Jason: I’ve heard of this as a marketing strategy for some restaurants. There’s this niche of restaurants where they have like this secret restaurant or secret bar or secret club. The secret kind of gets out but everybody knows you have to go into restaurant A and sit at this specific booth and say these certain words. Everybody that attends or goes to this restaurant feels like they’re special.

Mike: Yes! They’re empowered. They have the power. That’s what empowerment is. To give power to people. Once they have the power, they feel compelled to share it because now they have knowledge. Ironically, there is a restaurant down the road, two or three towns from here. It’s called Rails. When we go to Rails there’s a bookshelf kind of like this. It’s just a bookshelf at the hallway. You have to know which book to pull and then a door slides open. Everyone knows the book pull. Of all the bars, that’s the most packed bar. Everyone has to get in there. Everyone talks about it.

If you haven’t been to Rails before now I can be the first to tell you about this great secret. The concept goes back to being different again. If every bar had a book you pull and opens the door, it loses novelty instantly. It’s like, “Oh. That’s how you get into every bar. Doesn’t every bar has a door that you open to get into the bar?” No one talks about the door you have to swing open to get into the bar because that how every bar is. It’s only when you do something different that you’ve empowered this behavioral marketing. This inherent embedded marketing.

Jason: Nice. I love it. Okay. You’ve shown your power through knowledge. You’ve guaranteed attention, right?

Mike: No.

Jason: Then what’s next?

Mike: I’ll give you strategies around this. When you guarantee attention, then of course you have to sell to the customer. That means you have to identify what do they truly need, what’s the benefit they’re looking to derive, and then deliver it.

Let me share a story of a chimney cleaner. It’s a client I worked with but more importantly—I don’t care who’s watching this; is he Ray, John, I don’t care who’s watching or what business you’re in—no one’s business is as hard as a chimney cleaner. Just to set the stage, here’s what chimney cleaners face. First of all, no one knows they need your service. I would chimney the fireplace. I only stick my head up the flue to see what’s going on up there. Every so often, “Oh, my God! I don’t think I have the chimney cleaned in five years or whatever. I’d better do this.”

The biggest trigger for chimney cleaning sales, by the way, is a fire at your neighbor’s house. There’s a fire in your neighborhood or something you see in the news from a chimney fire, that’s when chimney cleaning explodes for three days.

Jason: I’m sure alarm systems same thing. “Oh, our neighbor got robbed!”

Mike: “Oh, my God! Yeah, I need one.” It’s the exact same thing. Ironically that points to the power of different again. Different gets noticed. If chimney fires happen every single day, every minute, it wouldn’t even be in the news and we’d forget about it. Chimney fires are actually far more infrequent, therefore it’s atypical or odd it gets to the news, it gets our attention. Just to give you a comparative. As we’re doing this interview right now, about 20–40 unfortunately fatal car accidents have happened. There’s 3500 fatal car accidents a day in the United States. But we don’t normally pay attention to that because it happened so frequently it doesn’t hit the news, it’s not odd and unique. I’d already go into—

Jason: Like when cars were new, that was a big deal. Somebody died using a car at this new thing, you may want to avoid cars.

Mike: It’s so dangerous. Not to go down a morbid path but now I feel compelled. Tesla has had two—at least that I know of—two fatal accidents with autopilot. There’s one in the U.S, there’s one in China. The drivers of the car literally remove their full control from the car and the car have been driving themselves for a long time. They’ve done this multiple times and they had a fatal accident. One guy got sandwiched under a truck. I don’t know what happened in China. But here’s the deal, two fatal accidents. The news about the autopilot and the safety of it, it’s scathing how dangerous some of these reports are about the Tesla autopilot. That it’s not ready for mainstream consumption yet. People should avoid it.

Here’s the irony. Two accidents—I think those were over two years—3500 fatal accidents every single day by people driving their own car. Their argument is this is the ultimate lifesaver. Even if autopilot is not perfected, let’s cut over to it right away. The number of people that will be saved is so tremendous, but the power of behavioral persuasion is when we see something different, we pay attention to it, we put significance in it until we identify it. Sometimes we make wrong conclusions. The conclusion of some people is Tesla’s autopilot is extremely dangerous. No way. We don’t do it. We continue to do this path of literally killing ourselves by driving our cars ourselves.

Jason: Let’s stick with what’s more dangerous, even though it’s not as newsworthy, right?

Mike: Right! It’s the power of different. It has a dark side too. Different can, if you pay attention to it, that we may conclude something’s a threat when it’s not, and therefore we avoid it like crazy and put ourselves at a more threatening position.

Back to the chimney—

Jason: Especially with new things. The—

Mike: Particularly. New is the definition of different, by the way.

Jason: Any kind of new technology generally. There’s the early adopters. There’s the people that fear it. Then everybody wants it.

Mike: Right. It’s the same pattern over and over and over again. The electric car? We, as a population have heard of the electric car enough—maybe we don’t own one—we’ve heard it enough, saying, “Oh, yeah. Maybe I’ll consider getting one next go around or hybrid or something.” The irony is you rewind 5, 10 years ago, and you hear about the first electric car—Tesla was the first mainstream push here—they’re saying this is like the hydrogen bomb shooting down our highways.

There’s articles about, again, accident with an electric car, the battery could explode like a hydrogen bomb. That was their concerns and people were terrified. Then now that’s like, “Our mistake, our bad. We won’t get it wrong again, as we get it wrong again.” And we’re like, “Oh, my God! Autopilot are killing us.”

It’s human nature when we see that new—which is the same definition as different—when we see something unexpected and different, we pay absolute attention to it and we make these extreme decisions. Either there’s a massive opportunity, or for most of us, some massive threat, unfamiliar, and we avoid it. That’s what happens.

Jason: It’s similar with the electricity battle between Tesla and Edison. There was bunnies and things thrown, dead animals thrown near the electrical equipment trying to poison the well against AC versus DC. Stuff like this. They’re trying to promote fear because it was new.

Mike: I saw a video. It’s horrible. They electrocuted an elephant to demonstrate the dangers of electricity. They literally electrocuted an elephant.

Jason: It’s awful.

Mike: Brutal. Brutal. But we’re not beyond that. Humans haven’t change that much. We do disgusting, ignorant things.

Jason: There was a group of people watching that just happen. They’re like, “Oh, this is interesting. Let’s watch this elephant die.”

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Jason: People do it all the time. There’s this prurient—I guess it’s called—interest where people will just sit there and they love to watch a celebrity struggle, they love to watch a business flop. They let you know it somewhat makes us feel more okay about our own failures. I don’t know.

Mike: Totally. There’s another behavioral aspect around that. I’ll get it to the chimney guy because I think that’s important, but let me hit this one now. It’s actually called the phoenix effect. It’s an extraordinarily important behavioral marketing technique that every business needs to use. It’s speaks, Jason, to what you were saying. There is automatic envy for someone that we see in a superior position to us. Some of us are better with this, others not as well at this.

Here’s how envy works: if I see someone has something that I believe I should have and they have it, first I will feel bad about myself. I feel, “Oh, my God! How come them and not me?” Then, I will concoct a story to quickly level the playing field, so I don’t feel bad about myself much longer. That rich guy I’ll say, “He didn’t really earn the money. It’s old money he got from his family. Oh, I know. He probably dealing drugs. I know that’s how he makes his money.” You pull him down.

Envy results in this natural tendency to want to actually concoct a story that pulls the other person down and diminishes their foundation. It’s an avoidance tactic. I don’t want to improve my […] I want to avoid them and reduce them.

The irony on the other side of it is called pity. It’s the opposite of envy. Pity is I’m walking down the street and I see the homeless person in the distance and I go like, “Do not make eye contact. Walk by a little quicker. Oh, you know what? I’ll go across the block so I don’t even have to walk past this person’s path because I don’t want to be them.” I’m ashamed. I feel that way at times. I try to be more mature than that, look the person in the eye, hopefully serve him in some way. But the human side of me kicks in a lot. I’m like, “Don’t make eye contact, Mike. For God’s sake, don’t make eye contact.”

Here’s what pity is. Pity says, I am lucky not to be them. I do not ever want to be in their situation. Therefore, I will avoid them. The irony is envy or pity results in avoidance. Exact same scenario. The person avoids the object.

Here’s how this applies to our business. If you were trying to market to your clients and prospects, and say, “We’re the most wonderful company in the planet. We do amazing things. We saved everyone. Every one of our clients we got a billion amazing experiences. You could be next. Let us save you.” It forms actually envy. It’s like, “Ho-hum. Who are you to say how great you are and how fantastic you are?” Yet most businesses, you go to their website and they talk about their perfection. Envy is the natural subconscious response, a.k.a. avoidance. Some few companies do this but some do the pity things, saying, “We struggled our lives. We were working on the basement. We’ll do whatever it takes to serve for you because no one else wants to work with us. We’re that bad.” That’s the other extreme. Of course, we avoid that.

The opportunity behaviorally is to do what is called a phoenix effect. Movies, especially action movies, always use this arc. Here’s how it opens up. Action movie—Tom Cruise or whatever—first five minutes of the movie is the perfection scene. He’s walking down the beach, the sand is beautiful, his wife is beautiful, his children are beautiful, his dog is beautiful, and the sunset is beautiful. Perfection is presented. They show how wonderful his life is.

Take about five minutes to setup this perfection and then very quickly is the turning point where you hear that bullet shot in the distance that the sniper shoots, hits his wife, takes her out. Thugs come running down the beach, they beat the hell out of Tom Cruise, they kidnapped the children, they kicked the dog. Then close to that scene is Tom Cruise unconscious, laying on the beach, sand over him, ocean wave comes up, takes the blood out into the water. The rest of the movie is the phoenix. The climb to do paybacks, to recover his children, to make things equal with these thugs that killed his wife. That’s called the phoenix. Here’s what happens to the audience—

Jason: Symbolically, a phoenix is this mythical creature that dies and out of the ashes comes to rise—

Mike: Rises again. That’s exactly it. That’s exactly it. What happens is we as consumers–the audience–become champions of it. First we see Tom Cruise in the perfect world and for a second, for a second part of envy, how envy starts to just like, “Oh, I wouldn’t mind having that.” But it sits too long and then it’s like, “But I don’t have it,” and then we start becoming resentful. They do it very quickly. “Oh, that seems a great life.”

Then they quickly pull him down. They know that in the movie, if they just pull him down just a little bit, the audience can’t relate. But if I pull him down so far that’s below the audience themselves—every time you walk down the beach and have snipers shoot your family and beat you up, not too often. They pull you down, that character, as far as possible. They know that the arc below the audience.

By the way, if he’s above you and below you all within five minutes, at some point you could relate because he went past you on that ladder. Then, when we see him at rock bottom, we saying, “Oh, my God! Part of his story is part of my story. I’m in there.” Now, we start rallying him. For the rest of the movie, we’re cheering him on. If the movie started off like, he’s just avenging someone death, it’s like, “Who is this guy?” There’s no reason to rally for him. If his life is perfect, we envy him.

In our business, don’t say, “My business is perfect and you can be our next client because we’re perfect.” Don’t say, “My business sucks and I’ve struggled forever. Please help me.” Instead, say, “We have the perfect vision. Here’s what we want to do. But let me tell you the dark background. When we started out, people didn’t get what we’re about. In fact, clients wouldn’t come to us and we had to struggle. We rent out of the garage for years. We landed that first big client. That’s our marquee client, but even that wasn’t perfect. We made mistakes along the way. Over the years, we learned how to deliver our services. Now we believe that we can serve a million customers, but we’re only 50,000 in,” or whatever the numbers, “5000, 500 in. We want you to be our next customer on our path to this greatness. Would you willing to join us?”

That story is the compelling story. You did the phoenix effect. You showed the high point, the low point, your doing the climb, and your audience or prospects can climb with you.

Jason: You mentioned a couple of things that were interesting. One, like you said, envy and pity are basically avoidance. The opposite of avoidance would be change. Like that’s the pressure. We have to change. If we’re either avoiding something, doing something, helping the homeless man, or doing the work to get these results that we’re seeing somebody really successful have, it’s pressure. It puts pressure on us. We try to kill that pressure by saying, “Oh, well they’re not so great,” or just not looking at the person, whatever.

The other interesting thing I thought of when you’re talking about your little story with the phoenix effect and with Tom Cruise is if we see somebody that has a problem that’s not that big of a problem, then we look at them and they’re having a really hard time, then we usually just look at them like, “You’re a loser.”

Mike: Yeah. You don’t know what hard time’s are, pal.

Jason: I had worse than that.

Mike: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Jason: Like, come on. Suck it up. Deal with it, you snowflake. You can handle this.

Mike: Yeah. “You snowflake,” I love… That’s the ultimate insult. Snowflake. It is true. It is true and yet, many of us are afraid to air our dirty laundry. Now, couple of things. Do not make—I’m not saying to be inauthentic—do not make up stories like, “I took 20 bullets in back,” and do whatever.

But people do, and ultimately they’re find out, then they’re identified as liars, and then game over. The story itself has to be true but we all have these dark moments. We all have it. If we are willing to put it out there and we show the before and after kind of that arc, people will rally around us.

The opposite of avoidance, where customers do when they see envy or pity, is rally. Rally is they see their own story in you. They want to be part of the journey going forward.

The homeless guy, here’s what I think a better way if you wanted to get money as a homeless person, share your background. Say, “I’m a father of three children. I made some dumb mistakes in my life,” or whatever. Be careful because I’m not trying to stereotype homeless people. Sometimes, many times, tough times are thrust upon us. Sometimes, it’s brought upon us by ourselves. I’m just giving you one example of possible story, but, “I’m a father with three children. I made some bad mistakes and have put me on the street. Here’s the thing. I want to be an example to my children going forward. The first step for me is to get off the streets. Second step is for this and that I would appreciate your support if you’re willing to help me get off the streets.” That’s a much better story than that sign that says, “Let’s be honest. I’m going to use your money to buy beer.” It’s more pity. That’s maybe cute or gimmicky, maybe you feel you throw your buck, but they’re still pitying you. They won’t rally behind you, they don’t want you to become successful.

There’s a great movie for that. I think it was called Happyness—

Jason: Yeah, and it’s misspelled and it’s with Will Smith.

Mike: Will Smith, yeah. That’s the—

Jason: In Pursuit of Happyness. The Happyness is misspelled.

Mike: Beautiful story.

Jason: Really great story. Great story. Instead of pity-envy you said you need a perfect vision and we need to circle back and finish the chimney guy because he’s still hanging out there.

Mike: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. And what’s typical for chimney guys, by the way? You want to hear the chimney guy?

Jason: Yeah, let’s go back to chimney guy and let’s talk about how do we have perfect vision, maybe next.

Mike: The problem with the chimney guy is they really need to leverage different because they’re in a trap of customers not knowing they need it. I bet you, a lot of people watching right now, their clients don’t really know that they need us.

Jason: Absolutely true. In the property management space, for example, property management as a business category is relatively new in the U.S. There’s very little awareness around it. The average person doesn’t walk around going, “Man I need a property manager for my rental property.” They are just not familiar with even what a property management might do, or the misconceptions so they don’t believe they maybe need a property manager. The awareness is really low. This is very applicable to them. They don’t […] needed.

Mike: Yup and what many of us do is we try to sell the features here but here’s what we do. For the property manager, we check on your property once a week. We have all the resources, the plumbers and electricians whenever there’s a problem, blah, blah, blah. We sell the features. Here’s the deal. People don’t consume that. Once you get their attention, we need to now sell them what they consume.

Here’s the chimney guy. No one knows that their chimney is dirty. You just don’t take your head up the flue. Secondly is if we do hire a chimney cleaner, when they render their service, literally they’re physically up your roof with some kind of broom system. You don’t even see them doing their work. You can’t measure their work. You can’t even measure the results. You don’t know these guys really clean my chimney. You don’t have a periscope that goes up your chimney so you don’t know. The worst part, by the way, is the mascot is Mary Poppins. A woman who will come to your house in the middle of the night and take your children away from you. That’s the mascot. Really a difficult business to be in.

And yet, they kind of market, saying you avoid that fire, avoid that fire. We have to realize is people consume the benefit. People don’t consume a clean chimney. They consume a roaring fire with safety. People don’t hire property manager for all things. They hire a property manager for assurance, for comfort—

Jason: Peace of mind.

Mike: Peace of mind. Here’s the deal. We need to sell to that, I call the U.E., the ultimate experience. What is the absolute deliverable and then always speak to that. The chimney cleaning guys far better served by saying, “Turn up the roaring fire. Do you love the roaring fire when you come in from the cold? We assure that the day you want to warm up your bones that fire’s ready to go.” They’re focusing on the end benefits. We need to sell that.

One of my favorite ways of doing it that was kind of different—cos I worked with a chimney guy—was at this point, he wasn’t selling anything to anybody. It was always waiting for the next fire to happen for people to become aware of it. What we did was we went to some of his past customers and said, “Could you share the story,” this is the technique, “share the story of your experience in front of the fireplace?” No one talked about their clean chimney. They talked about the birthday parties, the celebrations, the amazing things that happened in front of the fire. Then, we collect these stories and put them on the website.

This is another behavioral aspect that plays into our need for power. When you share stories and give attribution—so I put up my name, Mike Michalowicz or Jason Hull—if I put our names in the article, the people who I know reading the article is Jason Hull and Mike Michalowicz because our names are in it. It’s guaranteed. A sense of power and curiosity about ourselves. But also, the propensity to share it increases because, “Hey, there’s an article about me.”

What we did with this chimney cleaner is we wrote these articles, we collected these articles from customers and said, “Can we share your name?” “Becky Smith celebrated her 50th anniversary in front of the fire.” We collected about 50 stories and what happened is our web traffic spiked that day with—no surprise—50 visitors, the few that contributed their articles. But then they started telling other people, saying, “Hey, […] featured.” “Yeah, it’s featured. Check us out. My story’s up there.” Then other people want to share, we call it fireplace moments. Other people wanted to share fireplace moments. This became the central repository for the ultimate experience. What’s a great fire pit or fireplace experience? No surprise. Awareness grew and they started getting more business.

If you’re in an industry that is perfunctory, people don’t know you exist, they just need you, but they aren’t aware of you, story-telling is an amazing way because people want to share their stories.

Jason: Fire is like the original TV. But you communicate with each other while it’s happening.

Mike: Yeah. Intriguing. I could stay at a fire for hours.

Jason: It’s the ultimate gathering thing. Yeah, I love it. What would say though about marketers are sort of like maybe the fireplace guy should go around saying, “Have great moments and avoid your house burning down,” pushing out the fear and the stuff like this. Usually, Marketing 101 a lot of times is first you have to convince people there’s a problem. Once you convince them there is a problem then you can solve it.

Mike: Fear works. I wouldn’t try to attract them that way because that is more of the common noise. Right now you can go to any website—

Jason: We’ll probably avoid that because it’s yucky, it’s scary maybe.

Mike: Yeah, people are like, “My house might burn down? That’s nothing. There were like 50 people murdered today and all these things and all this death and mayhem.” It’s such a constant blur that we try to turn the channels to news because I can’t take anymore death. Then all the TV shows are murder and killing and death. We become numb to it. It’s our—

Jason: It throws us off, I think. If we hear a marketer saying, like if they’re selling water, like purifiers. “You could be drinking poison everyday.” You see this on TV and you’re like, “Bleah. Come on.” Maybe the fireplace guy could at least say, “Hey, we help make sure you that have safe fires, fire moments, and these are good experiences,” and bring up the safety aspect, which is what they want. They want—

Mike: Yeah. First you got to track the story technique. Be different again. The essence is always be different, do what the market’s not doing. Instead of fear, use the loss effect. It’s a subtle difference but the loss effect is a mechanism that when someone possesses something, if there’s a risk of it going away, they’ll go to extreme measures to retain that thing. But they won’t actually go through the same measures to gain the next level of that same thing.

Whatever car you have today, Jason, if the lease or the lien holders says, “We’re going to repossess your car if you don’t make a payment today,” chances are you’ll find a payment. It’s your car, it’s your baby. You’ll work extra hours, you pick up a job on Uber, whatever it takes to make that money right now so I don’t lose my car. The thing is I could take the extra job on Uber. I can do whatever it takes right now to get the next car but I don’t do it, so all winners lost.

We can play loss mechanisms. Once you have the customer’s attention talking about, “Hey, do you want to lose this big fireplace moment?” It’s better, I would say, it’s not a fear tactic but a loss, saying like, “You won’t be able to have a safe roaring fire. You’re going to miss out on the opportunity to have that in-the-moment romantic opportunity or whatever with the fireplace, or that in-the-moment celebration you want to celebrate because you don’t know if your fireplace can handle it. Don’t lose the opportunity to celebrate like you deserve to.” That becomes a powerful persuader when we hear about loss.

Jason: Yeah. Love it. This connects to this perfect vision that a business needs to create. You were saying most people go out and sell like what they do. I think Simon Sinek kind of talks about this. In most businesses their marketing pitch is, “Here’s what we do. Here’s features and benefits. Here’s what we’re going to do for you.” That’s what everybody is doing. The company that does the same thing is you. Down the street, they say the same thing.

What’s unique or different about the business, what really connects people to the business is connecting with your why or your vision or your purpose and whether they believe that or not. If they resonate with your values and with you purpose, then they’re going to have that sense of partnership and trust you, whereas everybody else is just saying, “This is what we do” but they don’t—logically they go, “That’s okay”—but that’s not the part of the brain that makes the decision. It’s the emotional part and they want to connect with you and stories, which you mentioned, are a great way of helping them feel something.

Mike: Yes. You know what’s funny too? It’s a moving target, this concept of being different. The concept of the purpose, the why. Very powerful until it’s not. That’s what the irony is. The reason why it’s so powerful is because most businesses don’t do it. The businesses that steps forward says, “Let me tell you our purpose, who we’re trying to serve, why we’re doing this, and the impact we’re looking to have.” That’s magnetic until the day—

Jason: Until everybody does it.

Mike: Everybody does it. If every business says, “We are the ones who’s going to save the world,” at certain point we’re like, “Oh, my God! Everyone has to save the world. Just, for God’s sake, give me the stupid features and benefits. That’s all I want.”

That’s when features and benefits will work again. We’re seeing it in traditional mailing. It used to be if we rewind 15, 20 years ago, the junk mail in the mailbox was just mile-high. Now it’s getting thinner and thinner and thinner because it’s not working. Ironically, as it depletes it becomes more effective. Email, dude 5, 10 years ago if you were email marketing, you were missing the greatest opportunity in the planet. Now it’s getting tougher and tougher and tougher to email market. It still kind of works but as more people get on there, it’s inevitable, it’s not the different thing.

The key to this is always looking over what the mass is doing and then do the next different thing. The concept of purpose and stuff, absolutely. Absolutely works, until it doesn’t. There will be a day it doesn’t.

Jason: That’s interesting. If it gets to the point where every business has some inspiring vision, has this motivation, and is putting out this pitch that way, then they will get to the point where that no longer works. Maybe one thing that may always work is you need differentiators or unique selling propositions. Like people want help making decisions. We’re overwhelmed, there’s too many options a lot of times, help me make the decision. How are you different than anybody else?

Mike: Be different in regards to, first marketing standout. Be the giraffe walking down the highway. You get attention. Then show your client how you are the ultimate opportunity. I find is the simplification that your deliverable is unique and is simple. It’s easy. This will change again too. Everything’s changing But we’re getting more and more variables. There are so many specific things available for specific needs.

It used to be you go to the market and there’s one mustard. There was Gulden’s Mustard. Grey Poupon is the only alternative. Now there’s like a billion mustards just at the supermarket. I have a little bit of a cold right now. I’m sure there’s a mustard out there saying, “You have the sniffles? Eat our mustard. It will clear up everything.” There’s so many verticals that it’s actually causing consumer confusion. The more variability, the more options they have, the more we get paralyzed. The right decision is to wait until I figure out the right decision, which means no decision.

When we get their attention, have a simple, specific solution. The easier it is to consume and the easier it is to see the impact it will have on them, the more likely they are to proceed with us.

Jason: Any layer of complexity, especially in the decision-making process causes attrition. It’s like a filter that applies to websites. I used to tell people, your website needs three things. You need to answer three questions. First question is, what do you do? Am I at the right place? Do you do what I need in the area I needed, whatever. Then the second question is, why should I choose you to do it over your competitors, really? If those two questions are answered, then they’re usually willing to do whatever is next. The next question is, what do you want me to do? What do I do next?

Mike: Yeah. How do I get started.

Jason: What’s the next logical step that I might be willing to take? Maybe I’ll go view pricing. That might be the next logical step. It needs to answer those three questions. Now what you’re seeing are websites where—and we’re doing some of these—it’s like headline that says, “Here’s what we do. Property management in the city. Why you should choose us? We provide peace of mind for blah, blah, blah.” Then, “What do you want me to do? View pricing, contact us, call-to-action buttons.”

You noticing this gravitation towards simplicity, especially above the fold on websites. I think we’re going to see that more and more through marketing and through everything else this gravitation towards greater simplicity, greater focus, and probably more focus on niche markets.

How do you think niches play into this space?

Mike: I think niche is, for now, the golden opportunity. When I say ‘for now’ it could be for the foreseeable future. The next 50 years. It’s been for a long time and it just continue to be a massive opportunity.

Here’s what happens in niche. I actually own a business that caters specifically to accountant and bookkeepers. As I cater to a niche, there’s two opportunities that appear to me, both are behavioral. One is what is called frequency. Frequency is the more frequently people see myself or my brand, the more the trust grows. The funny things is I don’t even need to do much. Just the appearance of the same person over and over again.

Yes. One podcast that goes 10 hours versus 10 podcasts for one hour, the 10 podcasts win because it’s 10 unique experiences. We start to build rapport then. I’ve been podcasting now for three years and I love it. I love it. The results are kind of miraculous. When I meet someone at a convention or conference or speaking at, like, “Oh, my God! How’s Daisy?” That’s my dog. “How’s Daisy doing?” So I’d talk about Daisy. They become intimate with you.

Frequency brings about intimacy. Intimacy and frequency brings about trust. If you pick a niche, you can achieve that because now you’re speaking to the same community. In the accounting and bookkeeping world, there’s four core conferences I have to go to every year. One is actually in a couple of days. I’m going to be there. I go to Sage, Quickbooks, Xerocon, and Scaling New Heights. I appear there every time. It’s the same people that are there. They start building trust for me, and I for them.

The second thing is you learn the language and this is perhaps the ultimate trust shortcut. When I go and am at a conference, and say, “Hey, have you done the [CubieO Racks]? Did you find that they’re easier now?” The people in that community will know what [CubieO] is and what [the rack] is and the updates. It is code language, we’re saying we speak the same language, we’re on the same page, we’re buddies, we’re friends because we speak the same things.

Jason: Every industry has its own dogma. It has its own lingo. It’s like in property management. The slang term for portfolio contracts is basically doors, like “I got this many doors.”

Mike: There you go. Beautiful. If you know what doors is and you can say that, that’s the code word for it. I’m in. Now the key is not in my community, so I won’t remember this organization. A Drip campaign or something like that is not what my community responds to. That’s technology I need to understand and use but they wouldn’t get it. I need to be able to speak the language. The only way is by appearing and learning about their community. But now when I go in there and talk about [CubieO] or [CubieD] or one of these setups, they instantly know. “Oh Mike knows the community.” If my competitor goes in there who is a generalist, and says, “Hey we can help you out,” and they say, “What do you think about [CubieD],” and my competitor goes, “What’s [CubieD]?” They’re done. Game over. I know what it is.

Mastery of the language of the niche you’re serving is so powerful. This is just language. If I go to Mexico and I make an even effort to speak in Spanish, there’s instant appreciation. Even though I don’t speak the language right, they say, “Oh, he’s aware enough and making an effort enough that he cares about us. If I’m the guy who comes down, doesn’t try a single word, now I’m showing that I don’t even care about the community. Using the language as proficiency also ensures that you care. Care and proficiency matched up with frequency and intimacy, game over. That’s going to be your client.

Jason: The language that would be very applicable to business-to-business types of situations, what about business-to-consumer, would it instead be being able to take your concepts and your dogma but bring it to their level, or speak normal English to them?

Mike: It actually applies in B2C because I have experience in there too. I co-own a B2C business. It’s a manufacturing business. But also as an author, that’s more of a B2C even though the people that read the books are entrepreneurs, they’re consumer. When I was starting off my business, I had a lot of female readers, I used to go to female conferences of women entrepreneurs. I found out that one of the most important things in the female language—I’m wearing it right there—is a wedding ring.

As a male author, when you speak to the female community, this language device is extraordinarily powerful because what it means is I’m not a creep, I don’t have other motives here, I’m not here to hit of you. I am here to talk about and educate you on entrepreneurship. Just by wearing a wedding ring, it was funny. Before I went to this market, I was like, “Oh I need to look appealing to the audience and stuff. Perhaps the wedding ring is the worst thing to wear. But once I understood the community, they’re looking to learn and not for some creepy guy to hit on them. I said, “Oh, this is an indication of a safety mechanism.”

Jason: Interesting.

Mike: Yeah. I learned—and I do actually through split testing—I have a picture of my original website. I have a picture of myself holding a book with my wedding ring on, and then they actually photoshopped it off. We tested it out of the boat. It’s like, “Oh, with it off I bet you we get more female readers to sign up.” It actually dropped.

The B2C, when we’re talking to the consumers, they have their own language too. If we get in sync with that, trust, safety—

Jason: So the wedding ring was more effective?

Mike: Far more effective.

Jason: Okay. I just want to make sure that was—

Mike: The majority of my readers are still female readers. My book Female Entrepreneurs, wedding ring is critical. A lot of male authors—

Jason: I’m very minimalistic. Stuff bothers me and that’s common with entrepreneurs. They tend to be more hypersensitive to physical things, so I wear what’s comfortable, that sort of thing. I don’t have a ring on but if I speak to a group of females, I’m going to put it on to let them know.

Mike: Not approved. Here’s the other irony I found when I was and still go to women-only conferences. Sometimes, I’m literally the only guy in the room. Here’s the thing. Remember different is better. When I walk in, see there’s 500 women in the room and I’m the one guy, everyone notices because I’m the giraffe now and it can be my advantage. Am I an opportunity or a threat? Maybe it’s not an opportunity. The guy is not gonna hit on me, maybe he has something to teach me. Here’s where it becomes a threat. When you’re part of the minority, when you’re not the solo person but there’s three or four of you—when I go to a conference and there are three or four guys—now we’re the creep gang. It just naturally happens. It’s just like—

Jason: Funny.

Mike: In high school, my high school, it was mostly white and black people. One Asian person, Ben, I’ll never forget Ben. Ben moves into our school, Ben Li, and everyone loved Ben because he’s the only Asian guy.

Jason: He was cool.

Mike: Yeah, he was cool if you are Ben’s friend. Until more of the Asian community started moving in—now it’s like four or five guys—it’s like, “Oh, my God! Is this a gang? Is this like the Asian gang?” It started getting resistance and rejection. When you’re the absolute minority, massive opportunity because you’re the odd ball. People are really curious about you. They want to be your friend to demonstrate that they embrace uniqueness. But when you are part of the minority—

Jason: That’s scarcity and rarity.

Mike: Yes, but when you’re part of a minority, then you become actually a risk and a threat, and people will become fearful. It’s a weird phenomenon but it’s the reality.

Jason: This is interesting. I remember reading in a book or in some different materials, and the number one guy—a lot of people go to the bars to try and pick-up on people; this is what I guess some young people do sometimes; maybe not nowadays but they go to the bar—and the number one guy that gets phone numbers and everything else there, like he’s getting hit on, is the bartender.

Mike: Oh, there you go! Right!

Jason: He’s the rarity. He’s the one item that’s not like out there trying to get girls and whatever, and he’s getting hit on and picked-up on constantly.

Mike: That is so—

Jason: If he’s marginally attractive, I would assume. He’s rare. If there’s just one guy bartender, he’s—

Mike: Right. No one else is bartending. Yup. Yeah, I love that. Different is better.

Jason: Interesting.

Mike: Now I go bartending everywhere.

Jason: Do you need dates?

Mike: I need dates. Oh yeah, totally kidding. I’m married, totally married and happy.

Jason: Good. Good. If people watching this are wanting to sell more, they wanted to get more business—because this is a common business challenge; I want more business—they need to be different and they’re probably thinking, “How can I be different? Maybe I need to be weird or maybe I need to do something dramatic or crazy.” But they also need to maybe apply the phoenix effect that you talked about. What advice do you have for these small business owners that are struggling to grow?

Mike: If you’re the little guy, here’s the golden opportunity. We can move faster than the big guy. This is always the opportunity for the little guy that we under-appreciate in ourselves. Talk about American Express. If I have a little business and I’m competing head-to-head with American Express, for them to turn on a dime, forget it. That is a monster cruise ship going through the ocean. Me? I’m on a little motorboat I can be cutting back before they can even think about starting a turn.

The opportunity is this: the little guy can always be different. Far faster, far sooner than the big guy. That’s never changed. I’ve never seen a change. Maybe someday in the future it will if the big guys can turn on a dime. They’re trying. They’ve never been able to pull it off.

When you see the market’s going one way, that the industry’s established a certain way, be the innovator. Rapidly change. Try something different. See if it gets attention and sell to it. And if it doesn’t work? Change again. You can keep on presenting yourself in new different ways literally overnight. That’s your advantage.

Jason: Awesome. Yeah, that’s huge. Even in old military shows where they had their ships and their navies, it was the little, newer hi-tech wood ships that were these frigates or whatever they were called that were really able to turn faster, shoot their cannons faster. They were the ones that started winning the battles because they pivot quicker and that was everything.

Being quick and nimble in a business, I think there’s a book on this subject. It’s not big that beats small. It’s quick that beats slow. That sounds really true. You can stay innovating. That’s one of the challenges that I experience is that my competitors are constantly stealing our ideas and copying us, and we get really mad about it. I get really mad about it until I realized that’s just normal. That’s inevitable. It’s just going to happen and that puts pressure on me because they’re always nipping on my heels to constantly be innovating and focused on what is working and what’s new.

Mike: Yes, and that’s inevitable. Your stuff will be ripped off, stolen, taken. But honestly, I do the same. I see a competitor doing something great and new, I’m like, “Oh, my God! I need to embrace that and take it.” I don’t see it suing or ripping off. I see it as embracing and improving.

Jason: Me too. If I get a great idea from a book or great idea from a coach or great… yeah. I’m going to use that and if it can benefit my customers, I’m going to use that to benefit my customers.

Mike: There was a study about rap music, hip-hop and rap. What’s fascinating is that that music genre is the ultimate form of taking something and improving upon it. There was a period in rap—this was kind of the mid-80s—they would take pop songs and then blend it into a rap beat. Now you have Aerosmith—dude that looks like a lady—playing Run-DMC or something. They have blended it a new way and it causes beautiful new form. I think we need to embrace that. Take something that exists, do not steal and say, “This is mine.” Don’t take possession of something and say, “It’s mine and it’s not yours,” but absolutely embrace ideas, spin them in a new way, and enhance upon it. I think we have an obligation to do that. When you see people taking your ideas and improving upon them? Leapfrog forward again, that’s the nature of business.

Jason. Yeah. If you take something, pieces of things that exist out there and you create something new, something greater than those, maybe something combined or whatever. That’s been one of the powers of my business that I feel that I’ve had. One of my superpowers was being able to pull in different things, incorporate and create something new that benefits my customers, that really solve their problem.

Mike: Yes. Bingo flamingo. I stole that. I stole that saying from someone else, bingo flamingo. It’s not mine. It’s copyrighted.

Jason: Now we feel we need to reveal everything we’ve stolen.

Mike: Everything. Bingo flamingo is not mine.

Jason: We get the confessionitis now. Mike, I really appreciate you coming out onto the DoorGrow Show here hanging out with me. I still think it’s just awesome to jam and hang out with a high-level entrepreneur, somebody who’s making a difference out there and we’ll make sure we’ll promote this and get this out there.

Mike: Thank you.

Jason: How can people get in touch with you and any parting last words?

Mike: Yeah. Do get in touch with me. I’ll save my last words for last. If you want to, my name’s Mike Michalowicz. I strategically placed some of my books behind me. Profit First—I don’t know if it’s spelled in the right direction—but that’s my most recent book. I’m on Amazon also. My website is Mike Michalowicz. Here’s the shortcut: type in Google Mike Mic—the long Polish name, that’s me—select that one and bring it to my site. Or another way to memorize it is a mnemonic. I used to be called Mike motorbike in high school, so just type in It jumps to my site.

Here’s my promise to you. There’s free stuff and all that in my website but I promise you when you visit my website it’s the most different website. I don’t just preach the importance of being different, I am trying to live in every element. So check out my website. I think just visiting the home page you’ll see something that’s radically different than any other author, and I think that’s part of the strategy. Hopefully it engages you and I catch your attention and you evaluate me as an opportunity to learn more or perhaps it’s a threat or not of a consequence. I think you’ll find it being an opportunity. I’ll try to catch your attention by being different.

The last final step is simply that. Take a step. If you want your business to stand out, doing more of the same of course won’t get us forward. Do what you dig out here but to get there, you need to try something different. Jason and I, we shared a lot of tips here. Just take one. Just take one. I don’t care of its the phoenix effect, if it’s doing something to catch someone’s attention. There’s tons of tips here. Your responsibility is grab one, do one today. None of this have cost any money. Just do one today and you’ll start seeing an impact but only if you do it. That’s my final call-to-action.

Jason: Awesome. I appreciate you coming out. Final words, if you are investing in yourself and bringing in new information and new insights—this is what we are inspired and seeking to create here in the DoorGrow Show—you’re going to have fuel to create some new things, to be unique, and to be different. We showcased technology. We showcased different tools. Continue to tune in. Mike, I really appreciate you coming out. I appreciate you greatly taking extra time with us and I hope you have a fantastic day. Hopefully we’ll be talking again soon.

Mike: I love to. Alright Jason. Take care. See you all later.

Jason: Alright. Bye-bye.

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